Consider this scenario: a sales manager is returning from a client meeting. She checks her mail while waiting to board her flight at the airport, and comes across an introductory video link to a training session that is going to be conducted later in the day.
She has nothing else to do, so she takes a look at the half an hour video on ‘Time and Productivity Management’. On arriving back at the office, the training session begins, and unlike in previous discussions, she gets actively involved in the exercises. After the discussion, she goes back to her team and shares what she has learnt and they seem to be interested in the exercises as well.
Training programs have traditionally been only face-to-face. ‘Corporate training programs’ were regarded as a break from daily work routines for a majority of professionals, rather than a knowledge transfer exercise. However with new digital media, training has become more interactive and professionals are becoming more responsive.
What is Blended Learning?
As a next step from eLearning, there’s an increasingly louder buzz around ‘Blended Learning’ today.
Blended learning quite literally means a blend of online training and face-to-face, instruction led session. In this method, various platforms and modes of delivery are used. Introductory material such as videos, case studies or articles is sent out to participants in order to pique their interest. These are often followed by a face-to-face session including interactive techniques such as role-playing, scenario based learning, simulations, gaming, and problem-based learning and collaboration of virtual teams.
How can Blended Learning programs be implemented successfully?
With new devices being introduced on a daily basis, Blended Learning is definitely not about using technology just because it is there; it’s about using technology because it makes sense.
Multi-device usage is the new normal today. Professionals expect to find information from different sources through various devices, whether it is an article to read or a video to watch on an iPad, a podcast to download for later listening, or an interactive scenario based training exercise to do on a mobile phone. Blended Learning could be a successful method if technology is strategically used. Device agnostic programs need to be developed, especially those that work across various platforms, screen sizes, browsers, resolutions and operating systems.
Blending Learning programs should also be created keeping in mind the group of people that are going to be trained. Which mode of delivery will captivate them the most? What is their technology literacy? Would they prefer traditional face-to-face training methods?
The future of Blended Learning
The big question on your mind might be: is Blended Learning here to stay, or is it going to fade out like another buzzword?
Blended Learning in a corporate setting is definitely advantageous for the modern, ‘connected’ professional as they can learn on the go. While instruction-led training will definitely not be replaced entirely by virtual methods, a combination of both seems to get the best results. Many organizations are widely adopting Blended Learning in the workplace. However, its success and future depends on the capability of organizations to:
- Adapt to new and emerging technology
- Understand and implement blended programs strategically
- Inculcate self-learning skills of participants
- Obtain management support
- Facilitate bandwidth
- Provide engaging content
The future of Blended Learning depends on how technology is used to compliment face-to-face, instruction-led training. Success also depends on how an interactive and responsive learning environment can be provided to change the perception that knowledge transfer in a workplace is just a ‘break from work’.